Windows Azure Toolkit For Social Games

An interesting development in the Cloud Computing world has been the release of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. The success of companies such as Zynga in social gaming coupled with the predicted growth in revenues generated from social gaming over the next few years has raised the profile of this interesting area of Cloud Computing.

To support the potential rapid scaling requirements of successful social games, in a cost effective manner, Cloud Computing lowers the entry point for any organisation or indeed individual(s) who have an idea and wish to implement this. To support this development the Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) is an environment which enables games developers to focus on the product without having to worry about infrastructure and associated operational requirements. The release of the Azure Toolkit for Social Games further adds to the attraction of Azure as an environment for social games development. So what exactly does the toolkit provide?

The Toolkit comprises of three main components.
1. Server API’s comprising a set of services for achievements, virtual goods, leaderboards, user accounts, notifications, virtual currencies. The API’s are JSON REST services and so can be accessed from many different device types.
2. Test Client enabling the testing of the games without the full user experience. Commands can be sent to games as though coming from users for the purpose of test and development.
3. Sample Game is a sample game that demonstrates the use of the toolkit through a game named Tankster.

Currently the toolkit is available for .NET and HTML 5 although support for other languages will be available in the future. The release of this toolkit is an interesting development from Microsoft which brings together three growth areas in computing: social networks, distributed gaming and Cloud Computing. It will be interesting to see how this toolkit is utilised and by whom.

Chris Czarnecki

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